(We welcome back guest contributor Pablo Balbontín, editor of the Spanish webzine Subterráneo, who brings us this interview of Vön Pax, vocalist of the Spanish band Barbarian Swords, whose latest album Worms we premiered last November in advance of its release by Cimmerian Shade and Satanath Records. We’ve divided the interview into 3 parts, with Parts 2 and 3 coming in the next two days.)
It is quite ironic to do an interview via Skype with Vön Pax, singer of Barbarian Swords, in the middle of a Christian holiday, as it is Christmas while we are asking him about Worms, and he does not get along well with the dominant religion in the west.
It was a kind evening in which he gave us some extensive and sincere answers to every question. And so we spoke about the album process, some curiosities, disgusting stories surrounding it, and talks about a porn actress. It was an unusual interview for the one who writes this, and possibly for the one who was behind the screen, too. This is how the evening developed.
I have noticed on this album some pleasure from excess, sort of you thinking, “hey guys, let’s do it more abrasive, more unpleasant and slower”, like if you were defying the listener. There are “Requiem” and “Ultrasado Bloodbath”, which has a strange title by the way, with one lasting for 18 minutes and the other for 12 minutes. In fact, in “Requiem” we can hear you laughing, implying, “I’m laughing at you, you can’t deal with this, this is extreme, you can’t understand me, but I don’t care…” Is this true that you have maintained a punk attitude, “come on, let’s go beyond everything”, or were the songs born this way, and not premeditated?
Von Päx: Alright Pablo, I have to tell you that it was not planned. If you take a song like “Requiem”, 18 minutes of insufferable, disgusting, pestilent, and nightmarish funeral doom metal, this is the essence of what it really is to be Barbarian Swords, and how we played when we started. At the beginning this is how Barbarian Swords worked: Voice of Noise, my brother, came up with a riff, while we got drunk and smoked a lot during the whole evening. Eventually we reached a point where my mind was gone and I hit myself. I threw myself to the ground while I was screaming like an insane… And that was the real Barbarian Swords spirit and what prevails on “Requiem”.
I firmly believe that the song which fits best in this album for Barbarian is “Requiem”. And also I think that this is the line that we should follow, because that was what it was for the band originally. If we are going to achieve that… I let you know this, as an exclusive, but I think that our third album will follow the steps of “Requiem”, more than anything else that we have done.
Yeah, perhaps it will be composed of four tracks of twenty minutes long, each one.
Von Päx: Well, you were quite generous speaking about four songs (laughs).
About how “Ultrasado Bloodbath” came out, which it should have been entitled “Ultrasadistic Bloodbath”, as that is its correct English form. We thought, “shit man, we are Barbarian Swords, let’s be a little bit punks”. I love to say “Ultrasado” and also Körgull the Extrerminator also says “sado” [in reference to their track “Sado soldiers” from their 2010 album War of the Voivodes], so we are going to say it that way too (laughs).
Basically I’ve told the song’s story thousands of times. I went to Netherlands Death Fest and when I was returning from the festival, I had a stinky idiot making selfies during the three hours long trip, a happy family striking on my nerves. It was then that a film appeared in my head, about “my revenge, how to annihilate them and fuck them by their backs”. At first we had a song about dropping an atomic bomb over Barcelona and being finished forever with that city. But, with all the cautions we have with terrorism nowadays, we thought, “shit man, we may end up in prison, let’s soften the lyrics a little bit and place it on a plane, instead of a city” (laughs)
Perhaps in 2001, it would have worked in reverse.
Von Päx: Yes, but I don’t believe that we have gone to the extreme with this album, we’ve just perfected our formula from our first record Hunting Rats, without pretending to. I’ve noticed in the rehearsals the improvement of those sons of bitches, they are a little bit better now at playing, and my brother has composed better riffs. If it sounds more extreme or more complicated to bear, it’s because Barbarian Swords have improved. As simple as that.
Regarding the lyrics, these are quite irreverent: “You’re shit, you’re rubbish, I will kill you, Wipe out all trace of the Christian worms…” I’ve just picked up some pieces, but basically it says: kill, kill, kill, exterminate, mutilate, fuck… They are straight to the point; they’re about death and destruction. I was going to ask you before about your inspiration for all this hatred, but I think that can I make myself an idea about it. By the way, this time, why did you decide to publish your lyrics?
Von Päx: You’ve mentioned before that message from the lyrics, “kill, kill kill”, and I really liked that you did that, because you have used the imperative mode to refer to them. When we finished the album, I realised that the lyrics were written in first person or imperative mode, and that was the moment when I thought, “fuck, I have an enormous ego! I look like a tyrant telling the others what to do”. And that’s true, as Barbarian Swords try to go as technically simple as possible; it makes sense that the lyrics should follow that same path. It would make no sense if we tried to emulate Shakespeare, speaking of the love of my life, when this isn’t the band’s goal.
You won’t write lyrics as MY DYING BRIDE does, twisted, romantic…
Von Päx: Exactly. This time we’ve published our lyrics… Well, I could care less about people knowing what I’m screaming. What I really enjoy is when listeners figure out what I’m saying just from hearing all my anger through the microphone. And I think that we’ve achieved that with the demo and our first album, and on this one a lot of folks have guessed, without any clue, that I’m not exactly singing about joyfulness in life.
Why did we decide to publish our lyrics? Basically, we managed to release some very cool editions of our new album through some labels, and obviously, if Cimmerian Shade Recordings tells you that they are going to release a kick-ass double gatefold vinyl, you can’t be an asshole and refuse to give the lyrics to them, because if you don’t, how are they going to fill the blank spaces? It makes no sense!
There are some cases where they fill the space using pictures without including lyrics.
Von Päx: Well, some of them put it, although you can’t read it (laughs)
That’s another issue.
Von Päx: Well, I considered including them, why not? How we were going to fill that, do we place a photo? Besides, we had also published them on our Bandcamp too. If we have already released it on the albums, let’s do the same on Bandcamp.
In fact, I’ve taken the pieces of the lyrics from your Bandcamp, because I can’t understand what you are singing (laughs).
Von Päx: Better for you (laughs)
Logically, the same goes for 90 percent of extreme metal singers (laughs).
The artwork was designed by César Valladares, known by us all. He has worked with Graveyard, Hyban Draco, Insulters, he has made t-shirts designs, fanzines covers, like Grinding Your Guts… Besides, it’s a very personal design of his own: similar to a fanzine, emulating that “cheap printing” style, black and white with details in red… Why did you decided to count on him? Did you gave him any indications or on the contrary did you say, “hey, do what you will”?
Von Päx: The truth is that César, and I’m going to say a very disgusting word, is the biggest fan of Barbarian Swords. Fan is a word that I deeply despise, because we’re all humans and we’re going to die, without exceptions, sooner or later. I hope sooner (laughs). Truth is, as he is a great extreme metal artist, we had to include him on one of our works, and it was the right time.
In addition, one day I woke up and I had the fucking design pictured in my mind, something that is very common in me, and I really needed a warrior cover, with a fucking tyrant skinning filthy christians with his whip, and I knew that César would be cool with the idea, and that if I spoke to him I would get the perfect picture.
When I transferred the idea to him, he was freaking out on working with us, for him it was a fucking honor… But it was even more so for us. When he showed us the first outline, we were amazed; we knew it was going to be marvelous.
About black and white with red details, it was also my idea. César, has a horror vacui syndrome when it comes to death metal, but that style doesn’t appeal to me. I was looking for something shocking, but not necessarily horror vacui, not so over-loaded.
Something more minimalist?
Von Päx: Exactly, something that has more “air” in order to let the picture breathe, with more contours… And also a touch of refinement which must be blood, and he got that idea, a Sin City vibe. When I saw the sketch I pointed at two things: “This bastard must have a bigger dick under his loincloth, an enormous dick”. And then I want a Christ’s whore with her cunt being wretched, completely raped by a pagan cock. And that was the picture he placed on the back, where you can see a chick with her bleeding cunt. And those two were the only Barbarian objectives (laughs).
(To be continued tomorrow….)